How to Quarantine Fish the Easy Way
Although this may seem obvious to many, it is the most effective way to stop your fish getting sick. This separate aquarium is used to temporarily hold newly purchased fish or ailing animals that need a quiet environment to heal. By putting them in isolation, it allows you to closely observe their health, administer any treatments, and prevent illnesses from spreading. Once they are fully healthy and free from disease, you can safely add them into your main aquarium without infecting any existing fish.
Materials for the Hospital Tank
– Clear plastic tub or aquarium with a lid – Aquarium filter with low flow, like a sponge filter – Aquarium heater and thermometer Aquarium decorations and hides Water conditioner – Trio of quarantine medications (includes Mardel Maracyn, Aquarium Solutions Ich-X, and Fritz ParaCleanse)
How to set up a Quarantine Fish Tank
1. To avoid cross contamination, place the quarantine tank in a different room away from your main display tanks if possible. You can also use separate nets and siphons to quarantine your fish tank and wash your hands after handling it. 2. If you are using a plastic tub, prepare the lid by drilling some holes for air flow and cutting a small rectangle on the side for power cables and airline tubing to pass through. To make it easier to do water changes or medicine dosing, mark the tub’s side with 1-gallon measurement lines.
A clear plastic container can be used as a cheap quarantine setup. To facilitate equipment installation and improve air flow, drill or cut holes in the lid.
1. Water conditioner: Fill the hospital tank with enough water. 2. Install the aquarium filter and heater, and add fish tank ornaments to give the animals some shelter. There is no need to use gravel or other substrate because a bare bottom setup allows you to easily clean the hospital tank and examine the fish’s waste if needed.
Use a bare bottom tank with aquarium decorations to provide plenty of cover. Sick fish often want to hide, so the extra shelters will make them feel more comfortable.
1. Add the fish, observe their physical appearance and behavior, and treat with medication if needed. Before adding medications, remove any chemical filtration (like activated charcoal) or UV sterilizers. 1. If you know the cause of the illness, then treat your fish immediately. Follow the instructions on the package. This article will help you determine if your fish have the disease. 2. You can feed the fish and watch it for a few days if you bought fish from a fish shop or breeder you trust to keep healthy fish. See Step 5a above if you suspect that the fish is suffering from an illness. ParaCleanse can be used to treat any internal parasites you are unable to see. 3. If you bought new fish from an online retailer, pet store chain, or untested source, proactively treat them with the quarantine medication trio. These medicines include a combination of antifungal, antibiotic, and antiparasitic active substances that are safe to use on scaleless fish, shrimps, snails, live plants, beneficial bacteria, and fry. Dose 1 packet of Maracyn, 1 packet of ParaCleanse, and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Ich-X for every 10 gallons of water. Let the medication soak in the water for 7 days without feeding the fish.
Description of quarantine medication trio
1. After treatment is completed, do regular water changes each week to gradually remove the medications over time. High quality frozen foods such as frozen salmon are a great way to help the fish develop their immune system. They are also nutritionally dense and easy for fish to clean up. 2. We recommend quarantining most new fish for 4-6 weeks since the last disease symptom or death was seen. You can also add two healthy fish to your main aquarium to the fish hospital tank, and then see if any of them get sick. If all is well, then you can release the individual fish from quarantine. 3. After quarantine is completed, you can clean and dry the hospital tank. You can leave the tank running if you intend to purchase more fish in the future.
Most Common Questions about Fish Quarantine
How big does a quarantine tank need to be?
A quarantine tank is not meant to be permanent. The water volume in a hospital tank is smaller, which allows for less medication to be used when treating fish.
How do you keep a quarantine tank cycled? The easiest way is to run a spare sponge filter (or extra filter media in a hang-on-back filter) in one of your display aquariums. If you have to quarantine fish, simply move the extra filter or media to the hospital tank. It will bring lots of beneficial bacteria that will purify the water. After the quarantine period is complete, put the sponge filter or filter media back in your main tank. To find out what is cycling and how to cycle an aquarium, see our full article here.
Run an additional sponge filter or filter medium in an existing tank and then use it when you need to add beneficial bacteria to your hospital tank.
Can I quarantine fish in a bucket? Yes, any clean, food-safe container that is large enough will work in an emergency. However, we recommend using a container with clear sides so that you can easily view the fish from all angles to see if their health is improving or worsening.
Should you quarantine shrimps and snails for disease prevention? Dwarf Shrimp can sometimes be infected if they are purchased directly from importers. In our experience, snails rarely seem to carry illnesses, so we usually skip the quarantine step and add them directly to our aquariums.
Do I have to quarantine my first fish? If you are setting up your first tank, you can theoretically add new fish directly into the aquarium without setting up a separate quarantine tank since there are no existing animals to protect. One situation where you might want to use a separate hospital fish tank is if your aquarium is very large and the fish are small enough to go in a scaled-down quarantine setup. It will cost less money to dose medication in a smaller volume of water rather than an entire display tank.
Another instance would be if your main aquarium is full of live plants or snails. In cases where the quarantine med trio does not seem to be effective, we often turn to aquarium salt as a second line of defense. Snails and plants don’t like high salt concentrations so it is best to move your fish into another container.
What should I use to treat fish if I can’t buy the quarantine med trio? We recommend using aquarium salt – a cheap and widely available “medicine” that is quite effective for broad-spectrum treatment of bacteria, fungus, and external parasites. It is not recommended for fish such as anchor catfish and snails. For more information, follow the dosage instructions in our aquarium salt article.